PETA Files Petition With State Agency to Stop Cruel, Deadly ‘Opossum Drop’

Wildlife Commission Lacks Authority to Sanction Illegal Events, Says Group

For Immediate Release:
September 10, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

Raleigh, N.C. — This morning, PETA sent a formal petition to Gordon Myers, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC), pointing out that the agency cannot issue a permit for the cruel Opossum Drop slated for New Year’s Eve in Brasstown. The 156-page petition was sent on behalf of PETA’s North Carolina members and supporters as well as several other state residents and is supported by sworn affidavits from North America’s leading opossum experts and wildlife veterinarians and hundreds of pages of factual exhibits. PETA points out that the Opossum Drop—during which a wild-caught opossum is suspended above a stage in a Plexiglas box and subjected to the explosive sounds of fireworks and musket fire as well as the blinding glare of floodlights, all of which would be terrifying to this shy, nocturnal species with extremely sensitive hearing—constitutes torment of an animal, a violation of North Carolina law, and that the WRC has no authority to issue a permit for unlawful activities. Five veterinarians with more than 125 years of combined experience in wildlife medicine as well as leading wildlife rehabilitators and educators in the U.S. and Canada, who collectively have cared for more than 14,000 opossums, agree that the Opossum Drop constitutes cruelty to animals.

“PETA and its North Carolina co-petitioners want everyone to be able to ring in the new year safely, regardless of species,” says general counsel to PETA Jeffrey Kerr. “Using a live animal for the Opossum Drop is cruel and deadly and, therefore, illegal.”

According to the experts’ sworn affidavits, the stress of capture and unnatural confinement, combined with the deafening noise and bright lights, is so severe that the opossums almost certainly suffer from capture myopathy and dermal septic necrosis, a painful, systemic infection—both of which are deadly—and likely die a slow, extremely painful death within days or even hours of release following the event. Although North Carolina lawmakers recently amended the state’s laws regarding the private possession of captive wildlife, they retained the requirement that the activity must be consistent with wildlife resources’ conservation interests and with the humane treatment of animals. PETA and top opossum experts agree that the Opossum Drop is neither.   

PETA’s petition is available. For more information, please visit

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